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As a reseller, my entire purpose is to find things that no one else recognizes as valuable and flip them for a ton of money.
Typically this involves crawling through thrift stores, cleaning/fixing what I find, and then reselling it on eBay (for up to $15,000/month in sales).
Several years ago one of the niches I really got into was Cabbage Patch Dolls. It turns out that there are tons of Cabbage Patch Dolls worth money and some of them are extremely valuable (like, thousands of dollars…).
Since the cat is out of the bag about how rare some Cabbage Patch dolls are and how much they can be sold for I figured it was time to put together a guide that will help people figure out if their Cabbage Patch Doll is valuable, how much it’s worth, and what to do if you find out you have one of the rarest Cabbage Patch Dolls that are worth several thousand dollars.
A Quick History Lesson – Little People Dolls
Before there were Cabbage Patch Dolls…there was nothing.
Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic. Before Cabbage Patch Kids took the world by storm, there were Little People Dolls.
Created by art student Xavier Roberts, these dolls were the precursors to what would become the Cabbage Patch phenomenon.
The original premise of the dolls was quite unique as Roberts wanted to make a doll with a unique look and name that people would “adopt” rather than just buy and discard.
These early dolls dubbed “Little People Dolls” were manufactured in a converted medical clinic in Cleveland, known as Baby Land General Hospital.
Handmade and Signed
These early dolls were each handmade and all more or less unique. Xavier Roberts took great care in crafting these dolls and added a personal touch by signing each one. The signature (usually faded but normally in red or dark pink marker) significantly increases the value of the doll, many of them reaching the $300 price range.
Adoption Papers and Birth Certificates
Each Cabbage Patch Doll came with adoption papers and a birth certificate with a name unique to that doll.
These documents (originally filled out by hand) are typically not found with the doll (I almost never find them with thrift store dolls) but they are a cool piece of history that, if you do find them, increase the doll’s value.
Okay, now that we’ve laid just a bit of the groundwork, let’s talk about what makes Cabbage Patch Dolls worth money at all and see which ones are the most valuable.
10 Cabbage Patch Dolls Worth Money (From The 80s)
Before we get into the list of the most valuable dolls I’ll say this, it’s almost impossible to make such a list and anyone who does doesn’t really understand how Cabbage Patch Kids work and what makes them valuable.
Let me explain.
Each doll is actually a combination of its features. For example, a thousand dolls might be made with a number 19 head mold. Of those, some get straight hair, some curly, some hair is red, some brown, and some have different teeth, outfits, skin tones, etc.
Some combinations simply end up being rarer than others.
The reason that specific combinations are more valuable is because they are more unusual to find and collectors value them more.
So any list that assigns ranks to the “most valuable” Cabbage Patch Dolls is really just looking at what dolls have sold lately for a ton of money.
Instead of giving you a fish, I’m hoping to teach you to fish. To that end, let’s talk about what makes Cabbage Patch Dolls valuable and the types of things you should be looking for that make them worth more or less money.
Now, it’s totally possible that a doll you find fits into multiple of these categories. Which is great for you! The more the better!
1. Soft Sculpture Dolls
Soft Sculpture Cabbage Patch Kids are among the first dolls created by Xavier Roberts in the late 1970s.
It’s quite unusual to find one at a thrift store (I’ve only ever found a couple) but they are easy to spot if they’re there.
Soft Sculpture Dolls (also known as soft face dolls) are hand-stitched and made from a unique fabric, giving them a softer feel than the mass-produced versions that followed.
The majority of very valuable dolls are soft dolls from the early days so, if you see one, grab it!
2. Very Early Dolls
In general, the older a doll is the more valuable it is (assuming they’re similar in other ways).
The first generation of dolls (usually considered to be 1979-1982) are among the most valuable.
The Cabbage Patch Twins are a unique set, where two dolls were sold together as a pair. Their matching outfits and accompanying birth certificates declaring them twins make them stand out but you’ll be hard-pressed to find them together and complete unless you’re committed to paying a premium.
4. Hand Signed Dolls
Even after the first handmade batch Xavier Roberts occasionally hand-signed the birth certificates or the bottoms of the Cabbage Patch Dolls, adding a personalized touch.
Not only does the signature prove authenticity (which is a bigger deal than you might think) but it typically adds value as well. Once dolls started being produced on a large scale the signature was stamped rather than hand drawn.
5. NIB Dolls
“New In Box” or NIB dolls have never been removed from their original packaging.
This obviously makes them some of the rarest and, therefore, most expensive dolls.
Dolls found in their box are typically from the heyday of Cabbage Patch, 1983-1987ish). 1985 Cabbage Patch Dolls are particularly plentiful and, if you find one new in the box, it will likely be from that around that year.
While being new in the box is desirable by itself the overall price you can ask also depends on the characteristics of the doll in the box. Some combinations were produced in such limited numbers that it’s unlikely that any totally new ones are still around.
6. Limited Editions/Famous People
Occasionally, Cabbage Patch released dolls that mimicked famous personalities or were special limited editions. Their rarity, combined with the recognizable traits of the celebrities they depicted, gives them a unique niche in the collectors’ market.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll find any of the ultra-rare limited edition ones at a yard sale or thrift store, stranger things have happened!
7. International Variants
Cabbage Patch Dolls produced for international markets are typically rarer and can hold significant value for collectors.
The above example had blond hair and blue eyes coupled with a Kimono but there are other international variants where the doll had a different ethnicity and these are often even more valuable.
For example, the Japanese Kimono Girl and Triang-Pedigree Vintage Cabbage Patch Kid Doll are currently valued at over $5,000.
Of particular interest is the “Appalachian” variant of dolls which have unique facial features and tend to sell for several hundred dollars, even in used condition.
8. Dolls With Hard-to-Find Features
There are some dolls with features that are so unusual (especially in combination) that they command top dollar on eBay or other auction sites. For example, red-haired and blue-eyed dolls are highly desirable.
In the case of the above doll, the “popcorn” hair in red is extremely rare and contributed to the eventual sales price of over $500.
Other specific features included specific runs or editions such as the Cornsilk Kids which, even though they were made in large numbers, still sell for decent money.
9. Different Races/Skin Tones
Although the Cabbage Patch lineup is quite inclusive with race and skin tones, dolls other than Caucasian ones tend to be significantly more valuable.
Brown-skinned dolls (in varying shades) typically command the highest prices, especially when paired with a rare outfit or other rare features.
10. Prototype & Test Market Dolls
Before launching a new line or feature, some dolls were released in limited numbers for testing or as prototypes. These dolls were (obviously) not widely available to the public but some of them have found their way onto the resale market from retired employees or their families.
While it’s unlikely that a doll of their value and rarity comes into your procession, they are like gold for collectors due to their rarity and representation of what could have been in the larger Cabbage Patch universe.
So, how much is an 80s Cabbage Patch Doll worth?
The majority of cabbage patch dolls from the 80s are worth $10-30. However, this valuation can be affected greatly by the doll’s features, clothing, and condition. The rarest and most valuable Cabbage Patch Dolls have sold for tens of thousands of dollars on auction.
Whether that’s good or bad news to you I’m not sure but it’s exciting news for anyone who sees Cabbage Patch Dolls on sale for $.25 in a thrift store plush bin!
Spotting Fakes and Reproductions
It probably shouldn’t come as any surprise that there are fake Cabbage Patch Dolls on the market. After all, if there’s money to be made, there are scammers willing to take it.
However, there are a couple of methods that you can use to weed out the fakes.
This also works on dolls that aren’t necessarily fakes but have cloned the original style so closely that you can’t tell if they’re genuine or not.
Authentic Cabbage Patch Dolls are made entirely of cloth, while fake dolls may be constructed of vinyl or other cheap and less soft materials.
Also, check for the brand name and make sure that the way it is written is consistent with authentic dolls.
One key indicator of an authentic Cabbage Patch Doll is the presence of Xavier Roberts’ signature on the left bum cheek. Counterfeit dolls may lack this signature or have a poor forgery.
It’s worth noting here that the first-edition Cabbage Patch Dolls do not include a date on the signature but later ones do (which is why it’s so difficult to put a specific date on early dolls).
Collecting & Selling Valuable Cabbage Patch Dolls
Alrighty, we have a solid foundation of what Cabbage Patch Dolls are worth money and, hopefully, you’ll know if you spot a rare specimen.
So let’s get to the part that I’m actually excited about, turning your finds into money.
I typically sell on eBay but these principles can apply just about anywhere (and for just about anything that you sell for that matter…).
1. Sourcing Dolls
The best place that I’ve found to source Cabbage Patch Dolls (especially vintage ones from the 80s) is thrift stores. I’ve found (okay, my wife found) a doll recently at Goodwill that we were able to sell for over $300.
However, most of our finds sell in the $15-30 range.
If you don’t have many thrift store options in your area you may also have luck at yard sales, estate sales, and even Craigslist.
2. Valuing The Doll
Although there are full pricing guides available, I’ve found that the most reliable way to find out how much a Cabbage Patch doll is worth is simply by comparing to ones that are currently on the market and those that have sold.
eBay is the perfect spot for this as it is the largest resale market on the internet and allows people to see completed sales for the past 90 days.
Simply type a description of your doll into the search bar and filter it by sold items. There are enough dolls that have sold that you can typically narrow down by condition, age, and more to get a pretty precise idea.
3. Cleaning & Photographing
The condition of a Cabbage Patch Doll greatly affects its value, with well-preserved dolls fetching higher prices (and new old stock dolls being worth the most). Maintaining your dolls in pristine condition and ensuring they retain their value over time requires proper storage and care.
Cleaning A Cabbage Patch Doll
Because of their light-colored cloth bodies, most dolls easily show dirt, drool, and all sorts of other things. If you must wash them, the method that I prefer is to do it by hand with a chemical-free soap. I usually use Seventh Generation which you can get at Walmart or any sort of organic grocery store.
When it comes to selling your doll, the photographs will be what makes the difference. Take well-lit photos without too many distractions in the background so that your potential customers know exactly what they’re getting.
4. Listing, Selling, & Shipping
You may think I’m biased against other platforms as I keep mentioning eBay but the fact is that I’ve tried almost every eBay alternative that you can think of. The only ones I continue to sell on are eBay, Mercari, and Poshmark.
Of those three, eBay has the largest audience (meaning the largest number of buyers).
Selling locally is also an option as it lets you pass on eBay fees but you’ll probably have to accept a lower sales price so it’ll be a wash in the end.
Pro Tip – Visit Collecting Communities
If you need advice about a doll you’ve found, there are collecting communities that are absolute repositories of information. Clubs and online forums, such as the Official Little People Collectors Club provide a platform for collectors to exchange information, discuss trends, and buy and sell dolls.
In all honesty, you’ll probably ride the emotional roller coaster of finding mostly worthless dolls until you find one worth reselling.
However, if you can stomach digging through piles of thrift store plush then there is gold to be had.
Happy collecting (and selling)!